At least 4 billion yen was remitted or directly carried in the form of cash to North Korea in fiscal 2002, Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Friday.

Shiokawa, speaking to a House of Councilors plenary session, said the amount was based on reports submitted to the government in accordance with the foreign exchange law.

Remittances in excess of 5 million yen or cash deliveries in excess of 1 million yen to another country must be reported.

In fiscal 2002, remittances of some 400 million yen and cash deliveries of some 3.6 billion yen to North Korea were reported, Shiokawa said.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed May 23 that the world should adopt a tougher stance toward North Korea in the event that Pyongyang escalates its nuclear ambitions.

They also agreed that the issue should be resolved peacefully.

Koizumi and Bush did not specify what these “tougher measures” would involve, although U.S. and Japanese officials have considered imposing economic sanctions, including halting cash remittances.

Shiokawa said Friday he believes that terminating cash remittances to the North would be feasible under the foreign exchange law.

“It’s possible to stop remittances if it is deemed necessary to assist diplomatic efforts to (make the North) give up its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles,” he said.

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